Mobile advertiser tracked users' locations, without their consent, FTC alleges

InMobi has agreed to pay $950,000 as part of a penalty

The privacy settings on your phone don’t mean much if tech companies choose to ignore them. One major mobile advertiser allegedly did just that.

The company InMobi was secretly tracking user locations, regardless of consent, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission alleged on Wednesday. The motive: to serve location-based ads over mobile apps.

InMobi is headquartered in India and partners with thousands of apps to offer advertising. This gives the company access to 1.5 billion devices.

Collecting user information to serve tailored ads is all too common, but InMobi did so through deception, the FTC alleged. The company stated it would only collect the location-based data if given permission, however, InMobi secretly collected it anyway, the agency said.

InMobi also created a database that could guess a user’s whereabouts, even when the location-tracking function had been shut off, the FTC said.

The company also allegedly tracked the locations of children, when promising not to do so.  A U.S. privacy regulation requires companies collecting information about children to first gain the consent from their parents.

inmobi ads InMobi

Mobile advertising from InMobi

“The case is the FTC’s first charging a mobile ad company with deception and with violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act,” the agency said in a blog post.

InMobi has agreed to a settlement and will pay a US$950,000 fine. The company blamed a “technical error” for serving children with the targeted advertising.

In no way was this “deliberate,” and the company notified the FTC as soon as the problem was discovered, InMobi said in an email.

It also said that the company was only tracking users’ location without their permission in “certain instances.” The problems were corrected in last year’s fourth quarter, InMobi added.

As part of the settlement, InMobi must delete all the information it illegally collected and operate a privacy program for the next 20 years to keep the company in line with regulations. It must also honor the user's location privacy settings.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Kan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?